In recent years, “The State of Emergency” as a philosophical, critical and meta-legal concept, has received much attention, particularly through the work of Giorgio Agamben and a revived interest in the German jurist Carl Schmitt. In turn, legal scholars have turned their attention to emergency legislation as a concrete legal practice, particularly in Imperial and post-Imperial contexts. They have often neglected, however, to interrogate the impact of emergency legislation over cultural production. At the same time, cultural critics examining the notion of emergency have paid too little attention to the particular legal structures that interpreted and embodied the state of emergency.
This conference brings together legal and literary scholars to discuss the practice of emergency legislation, its particular form, and ways to think of cultural production in this context. The five speakers will address the linkages between emergency legislation in the British Empire and its offshoot nation states, focusing on Israel/Palestine and India/Pakistan. Among the questions the conference will explore: what insights are to be gained by thinking about the British Empire, Israel/Palestine and the Indian Sub-continent together? Can one trace a family resemblance between Israel/Palestine and the Indian subcontinent through the perspective of emergency legislation? What does it mean to read emergency legislation from the perspective of cultural production? And vice versa: can we detect traces of emergency legislation in cultural products?